There's no dating equivalent of a get rich quick scheme. if we want a mutually fulfilling relationship with love, care, trust and respect, it takes time and vulnerability.

Back in the day when I first started blogging (can’t believe it’s about to be eleven years – eek!), I briefly dabbled with using a website to meet a potential date. I describe it this way because the term ‘online dating’ is so misleading; they are introduction websites, not some sort of technology that we can use to simulate a relationship, though goodness knows many thousands try. Until we meet and date a ‘prospect’, they are just that and we are essentially at ‘stage 0’ until such time. All the texting, calling, IM’ng, sexting and whatever else in the world, won’t change that but it will ensure that we build sandcastles in the sky and overload ourselves with assumptions that will ultimately leave us with an Imagination Hangover and a sense of being misled by our ‘feelings’.

Anyway, I digress…

When I put up my profile, it was minus a photo with a bit about me and specifying that I was only interested in a relationship and the age range was 25-34 (I was 27 at the time). I heard from guys right up to seventy years old and received a lot of messages and winks. I found the experience so bizarre that I decided that I didn’t have the patience for it (I would have ended up firing off replies with just, RTFP in them (read the effing profile). Almost all of the messages were inappropriate (too forward) with some being explicit. I’ve always been a bit of a Cautious Carol, so in much the same way that I shied away from drugs when pals were off their face on E’s, coke and speed because I figured I’d be the statistic that would keel over, I also figured I’d be the one who ended up going on a date and being found under a carpet in some dingy flat somewhere.

I’m not crazy about dating (introduction) websites because many people who are actually looking for love and a relationship, have underlying expectations that essentially set them up for a fall. It’s not the technology; it’s the way that people use it and the chaos and pain that results. Putting aside the shady folk that misrepresent themselves online and the persistent collectors of attention, many of the people I hear from, see these websites as an opportunity to meet people in a ‘safe’ way (i.e. in a way that involves less vulnerability and is less time/energy hungry), after all, these days, all we have to do is swipe from left to right or do a few clicks instead of dolling ourselves up and dragging ourselves out to various social occasions while keeping a hopeful/hungry look on our faces.

If we have our feet planted fairly firmly in reality and we know who we are and are relatively personally secure, trying to meet potential partners online can actually be an enjoyable experience albeit punctuated with gritted teeth moments from dealing with time wasters and inappropriate folk, but if going online in an attempt to meet people is a means of avoiding vulnerability, of escaping ourselves, of looking for attention and basically external solutions to our internal issues, we can unwittingly end up feeling aggrieved because we on some level hoped to strike gold immediately or very quickly.

We inadvertently feel entitled to not be disappointed and to be made an exception to the rule of the ‘online dating’ experience that many millions have to go through.

Who do you know in this century, no scratch that- this decade, who met up with the first person they linked up with online and lived happily ever after? What are the odds? Even the people I know who met online in the late nineties encountered some foolishness and effery before that happened!

Why do we go on a site like Plenty of Fish or apps like Tinder or the myriad of sites and apps out there, and expect to strike gold?

I know it would be “great” to have a series of dubious relationships or go through a painful breakup or other loss and then go online or open up an app and come across somebody you like the look of and then shazam, you hit it off and ride off into the sunset as a reward for all of the pain and suffering you went through before that, but that’s not how it works!

As I’ve said many a time before, you practically need Columbo/Jessica Fletcher skills combined with hide of rhino to use these websites, or at the very least, you need to not have a do or die attitude about it as if finding somebody online or in fact, finding somebody full stop, is going to be your salvation, because that’s a recipe for Fast Forwarding and Future Faking (by you and them) as well as codependency and pain.

If we approach dating post breakup with the same (or even worse) mentality that we had in previous relationships, we stand to replicate the same problems. Expecting to ‘strike gold’ with somebody who is already being far too forward or who we haven’t met yet, or who we have not consistently spent enough time with in real life to see them unfold so that we can get an accurate reading, is a guarantee of a rude but necessary awakening.

Rather than us holding on to feeling angry, resentful, wounded and disappointed that we didn’t ‘strike gold’ immediately and that we have to actually take our time and opt out of anything that doesn’t align with who we are, we have to turn these understandable frustrations into the valuable turning points that they are. We must get grounded. We must take a few moments to reflect and have an honest conversation about what we’re trying to do. We must home in on whether we are able to deal with the emotional consequences of engaging virtually with strangers because if we have a tendency to to see potential very quickly or to feel attached very quickly, we have a duty of care to go slower and to recognise those signs in us so that we can be more self-aware and pay attention. We have to also be willing to note any recurring themes that come up with the people or situations so that our blind spot is no longer a blind spot. If messaging, attention, or sex (or whatever) is our kryptonite, these (or the prospect of them) have got to be our cue to be conscious, aware, and present.

When we have a strike gold mentality with dating whether we’re meeting people on or offline, we are coming from a place of fear; it’s a sense of scarcity and fear that a relationship might not be coming to us. That’s not a good space to be in not least because we end up spinning our wheels and being so ‘on’ the prospect of it that we’re blinded and keeping ourselves away from something good because we’re too eager to chase after anything and everything.



FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites